Coconut Water - The Bizarro Sports Drink

Posted on July 14, 2014 by Allen Lim, PhD | 2 Comments

Coconut water is naturally sweet and high in the electrolyte potassium. So it’s not uncommon for people to ask about the use of coconut water as a real food sports drink. But, when assessing the use of coconut water as sports drink, what comes to mind is C.G. Jung’s idea of “shadows” – the aspects of our lives that are in actuality completely opposite of what we think or perceive. It’s an apt reference point, because if sports drinks have a dark shadow, it’s coconut water.  Coconut water is fine if you just want something real to drink when you’re not exercising or for short duration exercise (< 90 minutes or less) (1), but if you’re sweating a lot during prolonged exercise, it’s definitely the wrong choice.

In the realm of human physiology, coconut water is the exact opposite of what we need to replace the sweat we lose when we are exercising. The reason for this is that the primary electrolyte in coconut water is potassium, whereas the primary electrolyte in sweat is sodium. More specifically, 16 oz of coconut water contains 950 mg of potassium and only 50 mg of sodium. In contrast, 16 oz of sweat contains anywhere from 200 to 700 mg of sodium, and only about 50 to 110 mg of potassium (2,3) (Table 1).  


Coconut Water



Sodium (mg)



450 ± 250

Potassium (mg)



80 ± 30

Calcium (mg)



25 ± 17

Magnesium (mg)



6 ± 6

Table 1. Electrolyte Content in 16 oz of Coconut Water, Skratch Exercise Hydration Mix, and Sweat.

The high sodium and low potassium content of sweat reflects the relatively high sodium and low potassium concentration found in our blood or vascular space that feeds our sweat glands. This difference is due to the fact that pumps in our cell membranes that set up the chemical-electrical gradients across cells that allow proper cell function and communication, do so by pumping potassium into cells and sodium out of cells, making intracellular (inside cells) potassium levels very high compared to sodium, and extracellular (outside of cells) sodium levels very high compared to potassium.

Because water equilibrates between the major spaces across the body, which include our vascular space (blood vessels), extracellular space, and intracellular space, when we consume an excess of sodium we tend to shift water into our vascular space and when we consume an excess of potassium we tend to shift water into our cells. This is why, in some people, excess sodium consumption can raise blood pressure. Likewise, when we consume foods or liquids that are very high in potassium, we tend to increase our intracellular water stores. 

During exercise, however, increasing the water volume in our vascular space is what is critical to help provide the necessary blood volume to deliver oxygen, eliminate heat, and provide valuable fluid for sweat. So in the context of exercise, consuming water and ample sodium is much more important than consuming potassium, not just to replace what we lose in sweat, but to maintain an adequate blood volume to meet the increased demands on our circulatory system especially in the heat (4,5). In contrast, consuming coconut water or plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in potassium along with water isn’t a bad strategy for rehydrating cells when recovering, though it’s important to remember that we don’t deplete nearly the same amount of potassium during exercise as we do sodium.  

In most cases, drinking a bottle or two of coconut water during exercise isn’t going to kill us, as our kidneys are pretty good at keeping our electrolyte concentrations in check, especially if consumption isn’t excessive. But it definitely isn’t going to help us during exercise compared to a good sports drink with adequate sodium. That said, drinking only coconut water for long periods of time while exercising in the heat is one of the rare situations that could lead to dangerous electrolyte imbalances within the body that may be extremely harmful. While, a lot has been written about the hyponatremia that can occur if we only drink water during prolonged and heavy exercise in the heat, drinking only coconut water can exacerbate the situation, since the excess potassium consumption only compounds the inadequate sodium replacement (6).  Thus, in situations where drinking water alone can be harmful, be assured that drinking only coconut water may be just as is or even more harmful (7).

Ultimately, coconut water is the exact opposite of what we need when we are sweating heavily during exercise. It’s like Bizarro – Superman’s opposite – a character that Alvin Schwartz, one of the original writers for the Superman strip, found inspiration for through C.G. Jung’s “shadow” archetype. Just like Bizarro and Superman, there are a lot of similarities between coconut water and the all-natural Exercise Hydration Mix on the surface – both contain the same amount of calories, both contain electrolytes, and both are made with real food ingredients. But don’t be fooled, when you take a closer look, the reality is that coconut water is the Bizarro sports drink. 


1. Kalman, D. S., Feldman, S., Krieger, D. R., & Bloomer, R. J. (2012). Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 9(1), 1. 


2. Shirreffs, S. M., & Maughan, R. J. (1997). Whole body sweat collection in humans: an improved method with preliminary data on electrolyte content. J Appl Physiol, 82(1), 336-341. 


3. Adams, R., Johnson, R. E., & Sargent, F. (1958). The osmotic pressure (freezing point) of human sweat in relation to its chemical composition. Q J Exp Physiol Cogn Med Sci, 43(3), 241-257. 


4. Sawka, M. N., & Montain, S. J. (2000). Fluid and electrolyte supplementation for exercise heat stress. Am J Clin Nutr, 72(2 Suppl), 564S-572S. 


5. Sharp, R. L. (2006). Role of sodium in fluid homeostasis with exercise. J Am Coll Nutr, 25(3 Suppl), 231S-239S. 


6. Schucany, W. G. (2007). Exercise-associated hyponatremia. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent), 20(4), 398-401. 


7. Noakes, T. D., Goodwin, N., Rayner, B. L., Branken, T., & Taylor, R. K. (1985). Water intoxication: a possible complication during endurance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 17(3), 370-375.




Posted in Science

Skratch Labs Announces Antipodean Distribution Partnership

Posted on June 25, 2014 by Skratch Labs | 0 Comments

Boulder, CO (June 25, 2014) – Real Fruit Hydration Drink Mix maker Skratch Labs today announced a partnership with Australian-based Distributor FE Sports to bring Skratch Labs products to Australia and New Zealand.

“There is nothing artificial about this amazing company and that is why their real fruit hydration drink mixes caught our attention”, said Danny Brkic, Vice President of FE Sports. “We could not be more excited about partnering with Skratch Labs and spreading their mantra of everything REAL throughout Australia and New Zealand. 

“We’re really looking forward to working with Danny and his team – our companies share similar values and goals in business and life. However, it was a bit of a shock when they explained to us that the Coriolis effect influencing the direction of draining water in Aussie bathrooms is a myth” said Jay Peery, Skratch Labs Director of Sales and Marketing.

FE Sports is a family-owned Australian company dedicated to supporting their brick & mortar retailers by partnering with manufacturers who share the same ethos. We specialize in distributing new-world products to the Australian and New Zealand cycling, running and triathlon markets.

Support from Skratch

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Skratch Labs | 0 Comments

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Neutral Human Support. The name says it all, but there are so many stories to tell.

In the first place, there is the story about how Allen asked a bunch of us at dinner one night, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a car in the race with nutrition and hydration for everyone?” Just like Neutral Mechanical Support, we could help supply the basics that riders need to get through the day. We did all think that sounded pretty cool, so we decided to try to make it happen.

There’s a long story about how the unprecedented idea had to get approved by the UCI and race organizers, who are sometimes allergic to change but saw the obvious benefits and decided to give it a go. There’s the story about how Skratch Labs brought together a scientist, two retired bike racers, three chefs and four professional bottle washers to make the whole thing happen. There are numerous stories about getting up before sunrise to cook rice so that the racers would have fresh, delicious food in their pockets at the start line each day.

Lots of the best NHS stories have nothing to do with the pro peloton. When we decided to do this, we also dedicated ourselves to supporting the race staff and fans. No one would argue that the riders have the toughest jobs, but there are lots of other folks out in the sun all day long too, and we care about them. There are hundreds of stories about someone pulling up to the Skratch tent on a hot mountainside and asking if they can fill up their bottle, and every one of them ends with a full bottle and a smile. There’s the story about the fellow who found the tent such a cozy spot that he decided to have a nap, and his wife who settled in with some knitting while he rested. When that happened we knew we’d succeeded in creating the kind of environment we wanted. We all need someone to lean on, you know.

Our first goal with this experiment was not to hurt anyone or interfere with the race, and we’re happy to have accomplished that. Our next goal was to help as many people as possible. We feel pretty good on that score too, but we know that we can always do better, and this was an enormous learning experience. Above all, it was a privilege to provide sustenance and support to so many hard working professionals and to the fans who power the sport. There are far more stories of NHS than we can tell here, please check out some more from our friends at the links below. If you want to show your support for the Neutral Human Support movement, you can pick up one of our limited editions jerseys—they go on sale Tuesday and won’t last long.



Photos and Video: Greg Erwin

Neutral Human Support at the Amgen Tour of California

Posted on May 07, 2014 by Skratch Labs | 4 Comments

In what marks a first for the cycling world, Skratch Labs will be supporting the human element of racing as the Official Hydration and Real Food Sponsor of the AMGEN Tour of California. Skratch Labs will be directing their efforts toward supporting the actual humans involved in the race (both riders and staff) by providing real food and hydration products throughout the weeklong event.

During each road stage Skratch will have a support car and moto inside the caravan to distribute needed items to riders on every team.  

But we want to get people outside the race involved in offering support.  We want to see what Human Support means to you. Share your photos and stories of what Human Support means to you by using the hashtag #SkratchNHS. Each day during the tour we’ll select a winner, at random, who will receive an amazing prize pack of Skratch Labs super yummy deliciousness, some CamelBak Podium bottles and a limited edition NHS Skratch Labs Castelli cycling jersey!



Skratch Labs To Be Official Hydration Supplier to Slipstream Sports

Posted on April 15, 2014 by Skratch Labs | 0 Comments

Skratch Labs To Be Official Hydration Supplier to Slipstream Sports

Boulder, CO (April 15th, 2014) – Skratch Labs announces they will begin supplying all hydration products to Slipstream Sports. Skratch Labs is excited and honored to help keep some of the world’s best athletes hydrated during some of the most intense conditions in sports. The all-natural sports drink replaces everything lost sweating without any additional chemicals, preservatives or artificial ingredients that can frequently impede hydration as well as upset athlete’s stomachs.

The online nutrition subscription company is the team’s Official Nutrition Supplier and has worked with Skratch Labs since its inception, so the partnership with the team is a natural fit. “The partnership was born out of the great work we’ve done with and Skratch,” said Matt Johnson, owner of and President of Slipstream Sports. “We’re excited to take the next step and create a formal partnership between one of our top suppliers of and the team.”

While Skratch Labs has only existed as a company since 2012, two current employees were riders on early Slipstream teams. Jason Donald, current Manager of Dealer Relationships, and Ian MacGregor, current Skratch Labs CEO, raced for the team in the 2006-2009 seasons. “It’s great to see it all come full circle and to now be an official supplier of the team is exciting for us,” said MacGregor. “We’re still a very small company, just like Slipstream used to be a very small team. Now they are one of the biggest and best teams in the world and we are proud to be part of their success.”


About Skratch Labs

Founded on the philosophy that real food is the best source of nourishment, Skratch Labs has revolutionized the way people think about fuel and hydration for activity and recovery.  Using science and real world practice, Skratch Labs has created a wide range of all natural fruit hydration drink mixes serving human needs from sport to medical. Skratch Labs’ hydration drink mixes taste great and optimize performance and well being.

Introducing Skratch Lite: The World's Lightest Sports Drink

Posted on April 01, 2014 by Skratch Labs | 0 Comments

Skratch Labs New Product, Skratch Lite, Changes the Sports Drink Game Again

April 1, 2014 Boulder, CO –Skratch Labs has announced Skratch Lite, a new product that it believes will completely revolutionize the sports drink industry by being the only product of its kind to address the issue so many top athletes concern themselves with, weight.  By removing unnecessary ingredients, Skratch Labs has created a product that works just as well as its existing Exercise Hydration Drink Mix, but weighs nearly ten percent less per serving.  For cyclists and triathletes who spend countless hours and thousands of dollars to reduce the weight of their equipment and accessories, Skratch Lite is sure to be an instant hit.


Since launching in 2012, Skratch Labs has frequently touted its all-natural sports drink as a formula that “replaces everything you lose in sweat and nothing you don’t.”  They realized that the real fruit component of their drink is not something that technically needs replacing and so Skratch Lite is exactly the same recipe as the company’s existing drink mix, minus the fruit.  “We’re already pretty light since we don’t use all the chemicals and preservatives that most companies use. But ultimately, if you’re not sweating it out, you don’t need to put it back, and nobody sweats raspberries,” said company founder Dr. Allen Lim.  “Real fruit is real heavy,’ he stated.


Further evidence of the effectiveness of removing the fruit from their drink mix came by way of strict scientific testing.  Company co-founder Aaron Foster described the research in detail: “We held races at the office.  One person carrying a dozen pineapples, and one carrying nothing.  The person with nothing won every time. Fruit weighs more than nothing. Case closed.”


Without the addition of real fruit for flavor, Skratch Lite actually tastes remarkably like actual sweat.  Because of this, Skratch Labs doesn’t expect the new product to significantly reduce sales of its existing line of hydration products, all of which currently do use real fruit for flavor.  “It’s not for everyone,” said Ian MacGregor, Skratch Labs CEO.  He continued, “This is for those times when every single gram counts and you need to be able to go as fast as possible.  Races, local group rides, chasing Strava PRs, rides with your wife- these are the kinds of things that Skratch Lite is made for.”

Spicy Kimchi and Soft Tofu Soup - "Kimchi Jjigae"

Posted on February 20, 2014 by Skratch Labs | 0 Comments

Spicy, Vegetarian, Low Carb, High Protein, Gluten Free, Delicious.

This is one of Chef Biju's favorite winter soups and, while it's darn near impossible to spell, it's also a great combination of flavors and textures that he craves whenever the temperature dips.  It's a deep red and pungent classic Korean restaurant favorite, brought out in bubbling hot clay pots with eggs cracked right into the broth, cooking while it sits at the table. 

This also just happens to be one of the best low carb, high protein soups which will keep you feeling very full while watching your weight over the winter. 

Your belly will welcome the addition of fermented Kimchi and some sour notes to mix up the routine, while adding more probiotics "good bacteria" into your diet. Kimchi has been known for years as one of the "worlds best diet foods."

You can get great quality Kimchi at any Asian market, and most natural markets now will carry some as well.  There are many different types of Kimchi, with different vegetables and some that much hotter than others, so make sure to experiment and find the right balance that works for you. 

For this recipe we'll keep it vegetarian and a medium level of spice with soft custardy tofu and an egg cracked in. Feel free to adjust to your own preferences.

Makes approximately 4 serving of 2 cups each:

- 185 Cal

- 9.5g Fat

- 10g Carbohydrates

- 16g Protein


- 2 cups Kimchi, chopped into bit sized pieces

- 1 package of soft or "silken" tofu

- 1 quart low sodium stock (any type will work)

- 1 tablespoon white or red vinegar

- 1 tablespoon liquid aminos or low sodium soy sauce


- 2 jalapenos chopped

- 1 scallion cut into bit sized pieces

- 1 tablespoon GoChuJang (Korean Chili paste) or Sriracha


You can very simply mix Kimchi and vinegar together, then add the stock and tofu.  Then add in any other chopped vegetables, soy sauce, or chili sauce and bring to a low rolling boil, adjust salt to taste and then add the cracked eggs and let them cook until the whites set. 


Last step:

Enjoy the yumminess!

Posted in Recipes

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